Last night my local drum circle celebrated it's 13th birthday. Each week dozens of people gather to drum and hula hoop at Pullen Park here in Raleigh. It's an eccentric and eclectic gathering of people, and I love them dearly. It's the largest and most outlandish regularly occuring happening in our city. The people there are filled with creative genius.
The word genius is from the old Islamic word djinn, or djinni, which means spirit. The mythology says these spirits influence mankind for both good and evil. The idea is that when we are born, our creative spirit is born along with us, a part of us, yet somehow separate from us. The spirit is mischievous. We all know the stories of the jeanie in the lamp, but it's really the djinni. That creative spirit gets rather pissy when it's bottled up, as I'm sure we all would. If you only let them out on rare occasion, those spirits have a tendency to be destructive to you and those around you.
The djinni, our genius, is the guardian and caretaker of our unique gifts and talents. When we don't activate those gifts and talents, the spirit begins to withdraw and we lose touch with them. It's not that they aren't there, we've just misplaced them and allowed them to atrophy. If you regularly exercise your creative spirit and share it with others, you tend to have a healthy and happy genius. So genius is born, not learned. What you're learning is how to uncover and use those gifts.
The people who hang out at this gathering are different from most people. They embrace releasing that genius and sharing their creative spirit. All of those creative geniuses together in one place tends to stir things up a bit. That much genius let loose in the world all at once keeps life from getting stale and stagnant.
And here's the thing: your djinni, that spirit and those gifts and talents you were born with? They aren't really for you. They were entrusted to you, for the sake of all of us, to benefit larger life. Those aren't your treasures to hide away. The are meant for everyone to enjoy, because through you we all come to life, come alive, more fully.
So when you go out into the world and reveal your genius and people give you strange looks and make unpleasant comments, don't be surprised. They're disturbed because you are reminding them that they haven't uncovered and embraced their own creative genius. It's easier for them to live in ignorance with a dormant djinni rather than deal with the stirrings of an awakened but not-yet-unleashed creative spirit.
But don't diminish your spirit for the sake of making others feel more at ease. Part of your gift is generating some dis-ease in those around you. You are poking their spirit, and through you they become a bit more alive. Your genius gives others permission to go for it, to release their own creative genius.
Please, for the sake of all of us, dress in weird clothes and do strange things and play together with wild abandon. Give yourself over fully to the life that wants to live through you. In doing so, you help others do that too, and I say that is the very greatest gift.
Well, at least that's what they say in old North Africa, and who would I be to dispute that?
*based on readings from Michael Meade's Finding Genius in Your Life